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As Long as We Remember...

September 20, 2006

Lamoned, again

Kevin E. Dayhoff

The conduct of Maryland's primary election on September 12 is a national disgrace. We've been "Lamoned!" Linda Lamone, that is. You know - the Democrats' state elections administrator for life.

May we all now rejoice that on August 11, Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Silkworth ruled early voting unconstitutional?

If Maryland had this much trouble with a one-day election, can you imagine what it would have been like to have had voters casting their ballots for a full five days?

The judge stated in his opinion: "The General Assembly exceeded its constitutional authority in enacting the early voting statutes."

This is the year in which the Maryland judiciary has "the legislature exceeded its constitutional authority" on speed dial.

In their zeal to hold onto power, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly has systematically and arrogantly overreached its authority and done everything but call out the National Guard.

It is interesting that there has been little mention that the election problems in the September 12 primary election occurred in the three Democrat-dominated jurisdictions in Maryland that also dominate the state. Motto: "let the rest of the state be damned." Can you imagine the editorializations - err - news articles if the voting mishaps had occurred in Republican counties?

Anecdotes and published accounts abound with reports of voters coming to the polls and leaving without an opportunity to vote. No, we're not talking about a developing nation in which free elections are a new phenomenon. This is Maryland - where elections have been held since Provincial Governor Leonard Calvert (1634-1644) ordered elections for delegates to the Maryland General Assembly in 1639.

Where you have no accountability, you end up with mediocrity. Failed elections do not happen overnight. It begins with accountability at the top, for which, with the complicity of Baltimore's Sun, there is none in Maryland.

There is barely any mention of responsibility on the part of Ms. Lamone, the darling of the Dems; except of course, to mention her in passing - for the imprimatur of "balance" - in The Sun, otherwise known as "Democrat News Today."

This, in spite of the fact that her job description, according to the Maryland State Archives website: "The State Administrator of Elections, is the chief election official for the State. The Administrator oversees the State Board functions, supervises the operations of the local boards."

You can bet the farm that if the state elections administrator had been appointed by Gov, Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., there would be screaming from the front page to the last, criticizing the governor and calling for the administrator's head.

But, of course, such is not the case. You'll read all about election judges not showing up; failures of election equipment and alleged "poor training and misconduct among Baltimore's election judges."

Then in a letter to the Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran (D), Ms. Lamone says: "As you know, the local election boards are gubernatorial appointments, the local boards appoint the local directors and they are locally funded."

She then goes on to write that in order to solve the election problems she wants to take over the Baltimore City elections boards recruitment and training. Now that's reassuring.

The Sun was quick to say in a September 14 article: "Lamone, for her part, said she was "horrified" by the problems that snarled the start of voting on Tuesday . but she attributed most of the problems to the largely autonomous local election boards - especially in Montgomery County and Baltimore - not anything that her office or its staff did wrong."

But then, in the same article The Sun says: "The state Board of Public Works did not approve the final order for all of the necessary equipment until July 26, a vote that was delayed by questions raised by board members Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer."

Darn it - well, of course. How could we all be so stupid? It was the governor's fault after all.

Remember, Ms Lamone, "appointed by the State Board of Elections with Senate advice and consent," essentially has a job for life as a result of the 2005 Maryland General Assembly's "Linda Lamone - appointment for life legislation." Remember: 2005 SB 444/HB 675: "State Elections Office and State Elections Advisory Committee" sponsored by Sen. Paula Hollinger and Del. Shelia Hixson?

Blair Lee, in a March 3 Gazette column, "Paybacks are hell," puts it into perspective best. He calls to our attention a Sun article of February 21, "Voting-System Debate Colored By Party Politics."

In the article the paper editorializes on a comment by Governor Ehrlich: ''I no longer have confidence in the state Board of Elections' ability to conduct fair and accurate elections in 2006."

The Sun suggests that this "was Ehrlich's shabby attempt at intimidating the board and suppressing voter turnout... and replacing the state elections administrator, Linda H. Lamone, with someone the administration favors."

Mr. Lee writes, "From time immemorial, state law allowed governors to appoint the state elections administrator - the person who oversees state elections. And for decades, Democratic governors appointed loyal Democrats who could be trusted to keep an eye on the party's interests."

"When Ehrlich became governor in 2003, the Democratic legislature changed the rules . now Linda Lamone can only be removed by an 80 percent supermajority of the full elections board and even when removed she keeps her job until her successor is approved (if ever) by the state Senate, controlled by Democrats!

"In other words, at the prospect of a GOP governor the Democrats installed a Democratic elections-administrator for life. Yet, none of this made it into the Sun's story about ''playing politics" with the elections board. Which raises this question: at what point do reporting omissions create an untruth?"

The answer to our problems is to have the United Nations, former President Jimmy Carter - and perhaps representatives from Zambia, Serbia or Thailand - be official observers for the upcoming Maryland general election.

Isn't it time to restore the gubernatorial power to appoint an administrator with the knowledge, skills, ability and competency to do the job, instead of a patsy for the ruling party?

Isn't it finally time for Ms. Lamone to retire to a developing nation with no democratic traditions in which there is only one party in power?

Then - and then - we won't be Lamoned again.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at:

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